One of the great family bankers dies

Edgar de Picciotto, the founder of the family-owned bank Union Bancaire Privee and one of the three great sephardic Jewish bankers of the 20th century, has died aged 86.

UBP has been a dominant force in Swiss private banking since Edgar founded Compagnie de Banque et d’Investissements in 1969, which later became UBP. A great financial innovator, Edgar was one of the first to see the potential of hedge funds and piled money into the asset class from the 1970s onwards. Consequently, UBP became one of the biggest hedge funds investors in the world before the financial crisis of 2008.

Edgar de Picciotto, Edmond Safra and Gilbert de Botton were the three great sephardic Jewish bankers of the late 20th century

“He was a charismatic leader, driven by his family’s values and always looking to the future,” a spokesman for the bank said in the statement. “He will leave a deep personal imprint on UBP, which he made into one of the greatest family-owned banks in the world.”

Edgar was born in Lebanon and was one of a trio of sephardic Jewish bankers that had immense influence in global finance during the second half of the 20th century. The two others being Edmond Safra, who founded the Republic Bank of New York, and Gilbert de Botton, the founder of Global Asset Management, better known as GAM. Safra sold Republic to HSBC just before his death in 1999 and GAM was sold to UBS in the same year. Although the Safra banking empire continues today, the only continuous family banking group out of the three was Edgar’s UBP.

Edgar handed over the day-to-day running of the bank to his son Guy in 1998, but was always in the background giving strategic advice, particularly during the troubled years of 2008 and 2009 when UBP was hurt by the demise of the fund of hedge funds sector and the Madoff scandal.  

Guy, 55, sits on the board of directors with his two siblings - Anne Rotman de Picciotto and Daniel. A cousin, Michael de Picciotto, who use to head up the London operations, recently left the bank.